BALTIMORE (BP)--Though frail and ailing, 87-year-old Billy Graham delivered a strong message of hope to more than 33,000 people gathered in Baltimore’s Camden Yards during the last night of a July 7-9 Metro Maryland Festival.
“Unfortunately, I'm getting too old to do this, and I thought on my way out, this may be the last opportunity to preach to an audience like this,” said the elder Graham, who was driven to the platform in a golf cart.
|Newsboys bass guitarist and vocalist Phil Joel performs at the Maryland Metro Festival in Camden Yards in Baltimore. Photo by Shannon Baker |
In a historic moment for Marylanders, the evangelist shared the stage with longtime crusade associates Cliff Barrows, now 83, and George Beverly Shea, now 97, in vintage crusade fashion, offering a clear grasp of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through messages and songs.
The trio has ministered twice before in Baltimore, most recently in 1981 and in 1949, the year that Graham’s signature crusade ministry first garnered national attention.
It was then that Graham’s famous Los Angeles tent meetings catapulted him and his associates into an internationally recognized crusade ministry. From there, the team went on to share the Gospel with more than 210 million people in live audiences at hundreds of crusades and rallies in North America and around the world.
|A jubilant spirit marked many of the 33,000-plus attendees of the Maryland Metro Festival featuring Billy and Franklin Graham. Photo by Shannon Baker |
“It’s been 60 years of ministry. We have an amazing relationship that only the Holy Spirit could have made,” Graham said. The ministry team members each expressed thanksgiving for the transformation in Baltimore since their last visit, commending the city’s leadership for their hard work in building the Inner Harbor and otherwise beautifying the once-decaying area.
Graham also directed his attention to his 53-year old son, Franklin, noting, “I am happy to have a son preaching the Gospel like he is.”
In fact, in 1952, when Graham’s fourth of five children was born, a Western Union telegram seemed to foretell Franklin’s eventual ascent into ministry.